Sunday, October 22, 2017

Fransiscan leader and defender of faith against Muslim terrorism

St. John of Capistrano

Image of St. John of Capistrano

Facts

Feastday: October 23
Patron of Jurists
Birth: 1386
Death: 1456


St. John was born at Capistrano, Italy in 1385, the son of a former German knight in that city. He studied law at the University of Perugia and practiced as a lawyer in the courts of Naples. King Ladislas of Naples appointed him governor of Perugia. During a war with a neighboring town he was betrayed and imprisoned. Upon his release he entered the Franciscan community at Perugia in 1416. He and St. James of the March were fellow students under St. Bernardine of Siena, who inspired him to institute the devotion to the holy Name of Jesus and His Mother. John began his brilliant preaching apostolate with a deacon in 1420. After his ordination he traveled throughout Italy, Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Russia preaching penance and establishing numerous communities of Franciscan renewal. When Mohammed II was threatening Vienna and Rome, St. John, at the age of seventy, was commissioned by Pope Callistus III to preach and lead a crusade against the invading Turks. Marching at the head of seventy thousand Christians, he gained victory in the great battle of Belgrade against the Turks in 1456. Three months later he died at Illok, Hungary. His feast day is October 23. He is the patron of jurists.

Sunday Angelus Address with Pope Francis

Angelus Address: “On Rendering to Caesar the Things that Are Caesar’s, and to God the Things that Are God’s”
“A Christian Is Called to Commit Himself to Concretely to Human and Social Realities, without Opposing ‘God’ and “Caesar’”

Angelus Foto Francesco Sforza - © PHOTO.VA - OSSERVATORE ROMANO
Angelus Foto Francesco Sforza - © PHOTO.VA - OSSERVATORE ROMANO
VATICAN CITY, OCTOBER 22, 2017 (Zenit.org).- Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
* * *
Before the Angelus: 
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
This Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 22:15-21) presents to us a new face to face between Jesus and His opponents. The subject addressed is that of tribute to Caesar – a “thorny” question, about the lawfulness or not of paying taxes to the Emperor of Rome, to whom Palestine was subject in Jesus’ time. The positions were different; hence the question addressed to Him by the Pharisees: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (v. 17) a trap set for the Teacher. In fact, according to how He responded He would have been accused of being for or against Rome.
However, in this case Jesus also answers calmly and takes advantage of the malicious question to give an important teaching, rising above the controversy and the opposing sides. He says to the Pharisees” “Show Me the money for the tax?” And they brought Him a coin and, looking at the coin. Jesus asked them:”Whose likeness and inscription is this?” The Pharisees could only answer: “Caesar’s.” Then Jesus concludes: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Cf. vv. 19-21). On one hand, intimating to restore to the Emperor what belonged to him, Jesus said that to pay the tax was not an act of idolatry, but an act owed to the earthly authority; on the other – and it’s here that Jesus gives the “coup” – recalling God’s primacy, He asks that He be given what is due to Him as Lord of man’s life and of history.
The reference to Caesar’s image, engraved in the coin, says that it’s right to feel oneself fully — with rights and duties – citizens of the State, but, symbolically, He makes one think of the other image that is imprinted in every man: the image of God. He is the Lord of all and we, who have been created “in His image,” belong first of all to Him. From the questions posed to him by the Pharisees, Jesus draws a more radical and vital question for each one of us, a question that we can ask ourselves: to whom do I belong? To the family, to the city, to friends, to the school, to work, to politics, to the State” Yes, certainly, but first of all, Jesus reminds us, belong to God. This is fundamental belonging. It is He who has given all that are and that have. And, therefore, day after day we can and must live our life in the acknowledgement of this, our fundamental belonging, and in our heart the acknowledgement of our Father, who created each one of us individually, unrepeatable, but always in keeping with the image of His beloved Son Jesus. It’s a stupendous mystery.
A Christian is called to commit himself concretely to human and social realities without opposing “God” and “Caesar”; to oppose God and Caesar would be a fundamentalist attitude. A Christian is called to commit himself concretely to earthly realities, but illuminating them with the Light that comes from God. The priority entrustment to God and hope in Him do not imply a fleeing from reality but rather rendering diligently to God what belongs to Him. It’s because of this that the believer looks at the future reality, that of God, in order to live his earthly life in fullness and to respond courageously to its challenges.
May the Virgin Mary help us to live always in conformity with the image of God that we bear within us, also making our contribution to the building of the earthly city.
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
  
After the Angelus
 Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Beatified yesterday in Barcelona were Blesseds Matteo Casals, Teofilo Casajus, Fernando Saperas and 106 martyr companions belonging to the Religious Congregation of the Claretians, and killed out of hatred for the faith during the Spanish Civil War. May their heroic example and their intercession support Christians who also in our days – and so many – suffer discrimination and persecutions in different parts of the world.
Observed today is World Mission Sunday on the theme “Mission at the Heart of the Church.” I exhort all to live the joy of the mission, witnessing the Gospel in the environments in which each one lives and operates. We are called, at the same time, to support with affection, concrete help and prayer the missionaries who have gone out to proclaim Christ to all those who still don’t know Him. I remind also that it’s my intention to promote an Extraordinary Missionary Month in October 2019, in order to fuel the ardour of the evangelizing activity of the Church ad gentes. On the day of the liturgical memorial of Saint John Paul II, missionary Pope, we entrust to his intercession the mission of the Church in the world.
I ask you to unite yourselves to my prayer for peace in the world. In these days I follow with special attention Kenya, which I visited in 2015, and for which I pray so that the whole country is able to address the present difficulties in an atmosphere of constructive dialogue, having at heart the quest for the common good.
And now I greet all of you, pilgrims from Italy and from various countries. In particular, the faithful of Luxembourg and those of Ibiza, the Family Movement of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Brazil, the Sisters of the Most Holy Mother Addolorata. I greet and bless affectionately the Peruvian community of Rome, gathered here with the sacred image of the Senor de los Milagros [Lord of Miracles].
I greet the groups of faithful of many Italian parishes, and I encourage them to continue with joy their journey of faith.
And I wish all a good Sunday. Please, don’t forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Saint of our lifetime; John Paul II we love you!

St. Pope John Paul II

Image of St. Pope John Paul II

Facts

Feastday: October 22
Patron of World Youth Day (Co- Patron)
Birth: 1920
Death: 2005
Beatified By: May 1, 2011 Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City by Pope Benedict XVI
Canonized By: April 27, 2014 Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City by Pope Francis


Karol J. Wojtyla, known as John Paul II since his October 1978 election to the papacy, was born in Wadowice, a small city 50 kilometres from Cracow, on May 18, 1920. He was the second of two sons born to Karol Wojtyla and Emilia Kaczorowska. His mother died in 1929. His eldest brother Edmund, a doctor, died in 1932 and his father, a non-commissioned army officer died in 1941.
He made his First Holy Communion at age 9 and was confirmed at 18. Upon graduation from Marcin Wadowita high school in Wadowice, he enrolled in Cracow's Jagiellonian University in 1938 and in a school for drama.
The Nazi occupation forces closed the university in 1939 and young Karol had to work in a quarry (1940-1944) and then in the Solvay chemical factory to earn his living and to avoid being deported to Germany.
In 1942, aware of his call to the priesthood, he began courses in the clandestine seminary of Cracow, run by Cardinal Adam Stefan Sapieha, archbishop of Cracow. At the same time, Karol Wojtyla was one of the pioneers of the "Rhapsodic Theatre," also clandestine.
After the Second World War, he continued his studies in the major seminary of Cracow, once it had re-opened, and in the faculty of theology of the Jagiellonian University, until his priestly ordination in Cracow on November 1, 1946.
Soon after, Cardinal Sapieha sent him to Rome where he worked under the guidance of the French Dominican, Garrigou-Lagrange. He finished his doctorate in theology in 1948 with a thesis on the topic of faith in the works of St. John of the Cross. At that time, during his vacations, he exercised his pastoral ministry among the Polish immigrants of France, Belgium and Holland.

Saint John Paul II Biography

Karol J. Wojtyla, known as John Paul II since his October 1978 election to the papacy, was born in Wadowice, a small city 50 kilometres from Cracow, on May 18, 1920. He was the second of two sons born to Karol Wojtyla and Emilia Kaczorowska. His mother died in 1929. His eldest brother Edmund, a doctor, died in 1932 and his father, a non-commissioned army officer died in 1941.
He made his First Holy Communion at age 9 and was confirmed at 18. Upon graduation from Marcin Wadowita high school in Wadowice, he enrolled in Cracow's Jagiellonian University in 1938 and in a school for drama.
The Nazi occupation forces closed the university in 1939 and young Karol had to work in a quarry (1940-1944) and then in the Solvay chemical factory to earn his living and to avoid being deported to Germany.
In 1942, aware of his call to the priesthood, he began courses in the clandestine seminary of Cracow, run by Cardinal Adam Stefan Sapieha, archbishop of Cracow. At the same time, Karol Wojtyla was one of the pioneers of the "Rhapsodic Theatre," also clandestine.
After the Second World War, he continued his studies in the major seminary of Cracow, once it had re-opened, and in the faculty of theology of the Jagiellonian University, until his priestly ordination in Cracow on November 1, 1946.
Soon after, Cardinal Sapieha sent him to Rome where he worked under the guidance of the French Dominican, Garrigou-Lagrange. He finished his doctorate in theology in 1948 with a thesis on the topic of faith in the works of St. John of the Cross. At that time, during his vacations, he exercised his pastoral ministry among the Polish immigrants of France, Belgium and Holland.
In 1948 he returned to Poland and was vicar of various parishes in Cracow as well as chaplain for the university students until 1951, when he took up again his studies on philosophy and theology. In 1953 he defended his habilitation thesis on "evaluation of the possibility of founding a Christian ethic on the ethical system of Max Scheler" at the Faculty of Theology of Jagiellonian University (It was the last habilitation before closing the Faculty by comunist goverment).
Later he became professor of moral philosophy and social ethics in the major seminary of Cracow and in the Faculty of philosophy at the Catholic University of Lubin (where he became the Director of the Chair of Ethic, and lectured for 25 years until his election for the Pope in 1978).
On July 4, 1958, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Cracow by Pope Pius XII, and was consecrated September 28, 1958, in Wawel Cathedral, Cracow, by Archbishop Baziak.
On January 13, 1964, he was nominated Archbishop of Cracow by Pope Paul VI, who made him a cardinal June 26, 1967.
Besides taking part in Vatican Council II with an important contribution to the elaboration of the Constitution Gaudium et spes, Cardinal Wojtyla participated in all the assemblies of the Synod of Bishops.
Since the start of his Pontificate on October 16, 1978, Pope John Paul II has completed 95 pastoral visits outside of Italy and 142 within Italy . As Bishop of Rome he has visited 301 of the 334 parishes.
His principal documents include 14 encyclicals , 13 apostolic exhortations , 11 apostolic constitutions and 42 apostolic letters. The Pope has also published three books : "Crossing the Threshold of Hope" (October 1994); "Gift and Mystery: On the 50th Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination" (November 1996) and "Roman Tryptych - Meditations", a book of poems (March 2003).
John Paul II has presided at 138 beatification ceremonies ( 1,310 Blesseds proclaimed ) and 48 canonization ceremonies ( 469 Saints ) during his pontificate. He has held 8 consistories in which he created 201 cardinals . He has also convened six plenary meetings of the College of Cardinals.
From 1978 to today the Holy Father has presided at 15 Synods of Bishops : six ordinary (1980, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1994, 2001), one extraordinary (1985) and eight special (1980, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998[2] and 1999).
No other Pope has encountered so many individuals like John Paul II: to date, more than 16,700,000 pilgrims have participated in the General Audiences held on Wednesdays (more than 1,000). Such figure is without counting all other special audiences and religious ceremonies held [more than 8 million pilgrims during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 alone] and the millions of faithful met during pastoral visits made in Italy and throughout the world. It must also be remembered the numerous government personalities encountered during 38 official visits and in the 690 audiences and meetings held with Heads of State , and even the 226 audiences and meetings with Prime Ministers.

Homily for 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Pretty close approximation to the homily I delivered today at both our 4 and 6 pm vigil Masses; will be back at it tomorrow afternoon:


Did you hear the news today?  Too many people making too many problems and not much love to go around; this is a land of confusion! This is the world we live in and these are the hands we're given; use them and lets start trying to make it a place worth living in.............Phil Collins

As people of faith we are called to be great citizens by giving our all to God!

As we read these words from the 22nd chapter of Matthew, we ask: what does this Gospel mean?
By now, Jesus has pretty much frustrated the ruling authorities, whether they were loyal to Rome or detested everything about Rome.  Two opposing sides, the Pharisees and the Herodians plot together against Jesus with a simple question about paying taxes.  These guys must be the original IRS.  But Jesus knew the malice, the collusion and the hatred; so he outsmarts them with the simple solution: who is on the coin with which the tax is paid?  Caesar!  Then give to Caesar what is Caesar; give to God what is God's.

They didn't know it then, but we should know it now; to God we owe our everything; our all!
We have a dual citizenship brothers and sisters, most of us here are citizens of this country but we are also, here and now, citizens of the kingdom; the kingdom of God.  That citizenship is not just when we, hopefully, arrive in heaven, it is right here, right now.  Yet we have to live as citizens of both our nation, and the kingdom, everyday.  How should we do this?  With God at the forefront of our every action, thought and word. 

Holy Mother Church, through her Catechism gives us some guidance on what we must do and must not do while we live under civil authority.  

Among many things the Catechism reminds us to respect and pray for public officials, our national, state and local political leaders.  We must approach our dealings with them and our words as we speak of them with the assumption that they are representatives of God and stewards of his gifts.  Furthermore, we are called to pay our taxes and obey all laws that contribute to the common good.  All the time, we are also called, with the work of our own hands, to contribute to the common good with a preferential option for the poor.

But sometimes things don't work out so well and man-made laws can be unjust or completely contradict the will of our Father.  Then what?  The Catechism tells us that the citizen is obliged not to follow these laws, not to follow these directives.

Some examples that should be incredibly obvious to us include, but are not limited to:
slavery, human trafficking, abortion, euthanasia, the redefinition of marriage, any unfair and unjust burden put upon citizens particularly on the poor and most vulnerable among us.
We reject such things and we work to reverse unjust laws not just by our protest, but by using the hands we are given to make this a world worth living in.  As we sometimes sing in church, to God we should give all that we have and all that we offer!

Homework: Reread this Gospel at least once this week with the Catechism next to you.  Then review paragraphs 2234 - 2246.  Don't have a Catechism; get one; this is a must for every Catholic home. 
And remember: this is the land we live in, but our true citizenship is the kingdom of the Father, and these are the hands we are given, use them to make this a land worth living in.

There is a reason, at the very end of Mass, we say: go in peace, glorifying the Lord by our lives.
May God continue to bless us and America, but may we, citizens of this land, America; may America truly bless God!

The strength and growth of the Catholic Church affirms she is the one true Church of Jesus Christ

Fides: Catholic Population Growing to 1.3 Billion
Schools, Hospitals, Social Agencies Serve World

Fides Video screenshot

The number of Catholics in the world is increasing: almost 1.3 billion, 17.7 percent of the world’s population, reported Agenzia Fides on October 20, 2017.  Agenzia Fides is the information service of the Pontifical Mission Societies.
According to figures from the Church’s Book of Statistics (data related to 2015) and elaborated by Agenzia Fides, the baptized are 12.5 million more than the previous year (2014). This is one of the data in the Dossier published by Agenzia Fides on the occasion of the 91st World Mission Day, which is celebrated on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
The Dossier offers a wealth of statistical information about the Catholic Church around the world.
DOSSIER FIDES STATISTICS 2017 ENG
Click here to see video highlights
A few statistics of interest:
  • Africa has 222 million Catholics, 19.42 percent of the population.
  • The Americas have 635 million Catholics, 63.6 percent of the population.
  • Europe has 285 million Catholics, 39.87 percent of the population.
  • Asia has 141 million Catholic, 3.24 percent of the population.
  • The Catholic Church runs 216,548 schools in the world, attended by more than 60 million pupils.
  • There are about 118,000 Catholic social and charitable institutes (hospitals, care homes for people with leprosy, orphanages, homes for the elderly) scattered throughout the world.

Saturday is the feast of St Ursula


Saint Ursula
Image of St. Ursula

Facts

Feastday: October 21


According to a legend that appeared in the tenth century, Ursula was the daughter of a Christian king in Britain and was granted a three year postponement of a marriage she did not wish, to a pagan prince. With ten ladies in waiting, each attended by a thousand maidens, she embarked on a voyage across the North sea, sailed up the Rhine to Basle, Switzerland, and then went to Rome. On their way back, they were all massacred by pagan Huns at Cologne in about 451 when Ursula refused to marry their chieftain. According to another legend, Amorica was settled by British colonizers and soldiers after Emporer Magnus Clemens Maximus conquered Britain and Gaul in 383. The ruler of the settlers, Cynan Meiriadog, called on King Dionotus of Cornwall for wives for the settlers, whereupon Dionotus sent his daughter Ursula, who was to marry Cynan, with eleven thousand maidens and sixty thousand common women. Their fleet was shipwrecked and all the women were enslaved or murdered. The legends are pious fictions, but what is true is that one Clematius, a senator, rebuilt a basilica in Cologne that had originally been built, probably at the beginning of the fourth century, to honor a group of virgins who had been martyred at Cologne. They were evidently venerated enough to have had a church built in their honor, but who they were and how many of them there were, are unknown. From these meager facts, the legend of Ursula grew and developed. Feast day October 21

Friday, October 20, 2017

Pope preaching on a Friday morning

Santa Marta: “Jesus Asks Us for Coherence of Life”
Homily in the Morning Mass of Friday, October 20, 2017

© L'Osservatore Romano
© L'Osservatore Romano
VATICAN CITY, OCTOBER 20, 2017 (Zenit.org).- “Jesus asks us for coherence of life, coherence between what we do and what we live within,” stressed Pope Francis, reflecting on today’s Readings, during the morning Mass of Friday, October 20, 2017 at Saint Martha’s.
“Falsehood does so much harm, hypocrisy does so much harm, it’s a way of living,” observed the Pontiff, whose words were reported by Vatican Radio.
For today’s meditation, Francis was inspired by the First Reading — a passage of the Letter to the Romans (4:1-8), and by Luke’s Gospel (12:1-7), in which Jesus recommends to His disciples to watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees.”
Beginning with the Apostle Paul’s words, the Pontiff reminded that “true forgiveness” doesn’t come from “our works,” but is “free,” because it comes from “His grace,” “from His Will.”
“Our works are the response to God’s free love, who has justified us and forgives us always. And our holiness is in fact to receive this forgiveness always,” explained the Holy Father who, quoting today’s Psalm, added: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven” (Psalm 32 (31), v. 2).
It’s the Lord “who has forgiven us original sin and who forgives us every time we go to Him,” continued Francis, reminding that “we can’t forgive ourselves with our works. He alone forgives.” “We can respond with our works to this forgiveness,” he explained.
The Pope warned against that “other way of seeking justification — that of “appearances.” There are those that pull the “holy card face,” as if they were saints.”
However, they are “hypocrites.” They “make up the soul; they live of makeup; holiness is makeup for them, but in their heart “there is no substance,” rather everything is filthy.”
They lead a “hypocritical life” and their justification is that “of appearance.” In sum, they are “soap bubbles.”
Instead, Jesus “asks us to be truthful, but truthful in our heart,” continued Francis. Therefore, He gives us this advice: “when you pray, do it secretly; when you fast, then yes you can use some makeup, so that no one sees in your face the weakness of fasting; and when you give alms, let your left hand not know what your right hand is doing; do it secretly.”
Therefore, the Holy Father exhorted those present to live “the truth always before God, always.” Because “this truth before God is what makes room for the Lord to forgive us.”
One must pray for “the wisdom to accuse oneself,” concluded Francis, who again quoted the Psalmist: “I acknowledged my sin to Thee, and I did not hide my iniquity. I said: “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”; then Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32 (31), v. 5).

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Friday Saint of the Day

St. Paul of the Cross

Image of St. Paul of the Cross

Facts

Feastday: October 20
Birth: 1694
Death: 1775


St. Paul of the Cross was born at Ovada in the Republic of Genoa, January 3, 1694. His infancy and youth were spent in great innocence and piety. He was inspired from on high to found a congregation; in an ecstacy he beheld the habit which he and his companions were to wear. After consulting his director, Bishop Gastinara of Alexandria in Piedmont, he reached the conclusion that God wished him to establish a congregation in honor of the Passion of Jesus Christ. On November 22, 1720, the bishop vested him with the habit that had been shown to him in a vision, the same that the Passionists wear at the present time. From that moment the saint applied himself to repair the Rules of his institute; and in 1721 he went to Rome to obtain the approbation of the Holy See. At first he failed, but finally succeeded when Benedict XIV approved the Rules in 1741 and 1746. Meanwhile St. Paul built his first monastery near Obitello. Sometime later he established a larger community at the Church of St. John and Paul in Rome. For fifty years St. Paul remained the indefatigable missionary of Italy. God lavished upon him the greatest gifts in the supernatural order, but he treated himself with the greatest rigor, and believed that he was a useless servant and a great sinner. His saintly death occurred at Rome in the year 1775, at the age of eighty-one. He was canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1867. His feast day is October 20

Thursday morning Papal Homily

Santa Marta: Open the Door
The Gift of God’s Salvation

© L'Osservatore Romano
© L'Osservatore Romano
“The gift of God’s salvation opens the door to all,” Pope Francis said on October 19, 2017, in his homily at mass in Santa Marta, according to Vatican Radio. The Pope recalled the story in the Gospel of Luke where the Scribes and Pharisees thought themselves righteous – but Jesus explained that only God is just.
“This leads us to understand the revelation of God, to understand God’s heart, to understand God’s salvation – the key to knowledge – we can say it is very neglected. One forgets the freedom of salvation; forgetting the closeness of God and forgetting God’s mercy,” the Holy Father said in Italian, reported by Vatican Radio in English.  He continued that “those who forget the gift of salvation, the closeness of God, and the mercy of God, have taken away the key to knowledge.”
The Pope reminded the congregation that it is God who made the law, but not the God of revelation: “The God of revelation …has begun to walk with us from Abraham to Jesus.”
The Holy Father warned that when there isn’t closeness to God, prayer is lacking.  And he encouraged works of mercy, “the stone of the fulfillment of the law,” because they touch the flesh of Christ.
“The Pharisees, doctors of the law are not people of the past,” Francis said. “Even today there are many of them. That is why we need prayers for us shepherds.”